Jerry Nelson Stuart, Painting Beyond the Ordinary
● By Melissa Gulden
By Melissa Gulden
Photos by James Mazzotta
IMAGINE: You’re lounging in the pool. But not just any pool—the New York skyline frames the sides, and on the bottom, a map of Manhattan reflects back at you. Or how about a ceiling reminiscent of European art—cherubs fluttering in the clouds. Picture this: While doing the dishes, you gaze out at Lake Como—grapevines climbing the balcony, olive trees swaying in the warm breeze.
Jerry Stuart of Redding can transform your home, all with the stroke of a brush. The technique is called trompe l’oeil—the visual illusion in art, used to trick the eye into perceiving that a painted detail is three-dimensional. But this isn’t the only trick up Stuart’s sleeve—he is a man of many talents.
By trade, he is a house painter: interior, exterior, murals, etc., through Jerry Nelson Stuart Painting Company. Named after his father and uncle, Stuart pays homage to both family members in his company. But he’s so much more than a house painter—he’s an artist with a passion for what he does.
Born in upstate New York, Stuart discovered his artistic talent later in life. “I didn’t even know I could paint until my senior year of high school,” Stuart confesses. “All the good-looking girls were taking art classes, so I signed up.”
Impressed by Stuart’s talent, his art teacher gave him a scholarship to go to college for art.
After college, Stuart joined the Army, Charlie Co. 20th Engineer Battalion, where he was asked to paint murals on day-room walls. Stuart was free to paint anything, as long as there was an Army theme. He quickly discovered his love of large-scale painting. Once he left the Army, he began painting apartment complexes—he learned the trade and enjoyed doing it.
“I started out with hardly anything and built my business,” Stuart explains. He kept hearing people talk about how much they hated painting. “That was really good news for me,” Stuart says with a laugh.
Then a good friend asked him, “If you could do anything, and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing?” Stuart answered, without a doubt, he knew he would paint—paint and teach. His friend said that’s what he should be doing. “And I’ve been doing it ever since.”
He moved to the North State 10 years ago, and has worked in many areas, including Mt. Shasta, McCloud and Redding. Stuart is a general painting contractor who specializes in decorative finishes; however, he is also a certified instructor in many mediums, as well as specialized paints.
But it was one client who asked Stuart to paint something he had never tried before that really put Stuart on the map, so to speak.
When approached to paint a client’s pool in order for the pool to retain heat, Stuart ended up painting it more than just the requested black. “I had never done pools,” Stuart says. “But I thought it would be cool to paint the New York City skyline.” The client agreed, so Stuart also painted the bottom of the pool to resemble a map of Manhattan. “It adds more interest than just a black bottom.” Now, the pool is just one of many creative projects Stuart is known for. He also painted the gigantic bass on the Antlers Bridge, north of Redding above the Sacramento arm of Shasta Lake, on Interstate 5 near Lakehead.
One of Stuart’s heroes, Helen Keller, once said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” For Stuart, that drives him, and he tries to live his life by this motto: “To create a better working, living and playing environment through my artwork and my painting.” At the end of the day, can he check off that box? And usually, he says, he can. “It may seem like simple, basic life stuff, but life itself is too complicated these days, so simple is nice.” •
Jerry Nelson Stuart